As first reported by Andrew O’Hara at AppleInsider, Nanoleaf has announced an upcoming firmware update that will allow the company’s own devices that already act as Thread Border Routers to act as bona fide Border Routers not just for their own products, but indeed any Thread enabled HomeKit compatible device.
Up until this announcement, the only Thread Border Routers that work with HomeKit are Apple’s own HomePod mini, and the 2021 Apple TV4K. This forthcoming update now means that if you purchased a Thread device from companies like Eve, or Nanoleaf (two of the leading manufacturers of Thread-enabled products right now) but didn’t have either of the aforementioned Apple devices, you could now get Thread functionality working using Nanoleaf’s products acting as Border Routers.
which includes the Shapes, Elements, and the recently released Lines. In actual fact, you would only need the controller for these devices, as the controller is the hardware that contains the Thread capabilities. These controllers are available for purchase separately (hint, hint)…
The update should be arriving in Q1 of 2022, so any time up until the end of March, ostensibly.
Could this be Apple’s way of loosening the reigns a little in terms of Thread and HomeKit access? It makes sense in some ways, as Apple know that Matter is just on the horizon, which in theory means that aside from devices that will be Matter certified being given access to HomeKit where previously they weren’t, the same could be true of Thread functionality. If Apple didn’t give this level of access, it would fly in the face of the whole point of Matter being a universal standard.
Either way, this once again is good news for consumers who may not particularly want to buy an extra Apple TV if they already have one (or more, like me), and don’t want a HomePod Mini, instead preferring the OG HomePod for its superior sound capabilities.